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ANTI-RACISM FOLLOW-UP

Gardai

investigating

racist websites A

ALLEN MEAGHER REPORTS Garda investigation is “continuing” into three home-grown, racist hatesites on Facebook that attracted close to 10,000 members before they were shut down during the summer. The story was highlighted on the front cover of the summer edition of this magazine and led to hundreds of people making complaints, including a second complaint from Pavee Point and another from the Kerry Travellers Development Project which identified some of the culprits. The campaign to shut down the sites was initially led by community workers. The sites were “vile, dangerous and unacceptable”, said Martin Collins of Pavee Point. “It needs to be stopped, it needs to be eradicated.” Gardai have confirmed that files are currently being prepared for the DPP and the Facebook company and a small number of individuals may soon face charges under the Incitement to Hatred Act. ‘I Fucking Hate Knackers’ had over 300 members, another site alled ‘Promote The Use Of Knacker Babies As Bait’ had 664 members and the biggest one called ‘Set Aside Monday Afternoons To Hunt Knackers’ attracted over 8000 people to join. In August, Sargeant Dave McInerney, the head of the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office (GRIO) warned that everyone who joined racist websites was open to prosecution. He has since told us, “It won’t be tolerated, there’s no excuse for racism and if anyone isn’t getting the service they

expect from their local Garda station, they should come directly to me and they will be looked after. I’d be very vigorous about this and senior officers take this most seriously.” He said our coverage generated an “amazing” response and his office and local Garda stations around the country received “hundreds” of phone call complaints. “We had two days of non-stop calls. Some people took grave exception to the websites and they weren’t Travellers themselves. Members of other ethnic minorities also rang to find out about how to make complaints over racism towards them.” As far as we understand, formal written complaints in relation to those behind the anti-Traveller sites were lodged in Garda stations in Cork, Waterford, Galway, Dublin and Kerry and an independent source has informed us that a file is “almost certainly” going to the DPP in relation to at least one of the cases. If prosecutions follow, it would be the first time online racism has led to a court case in Ireland. In other jurisdictions, online racism is viewed most seriously. In November, in Leeds, England, a man who posted racist videos on Youtube and pleaded guilty to five offences under the Public Order Act was jailed for 15 months. In the course of ‘Changing Ireland’s own ongoing investigation we’ve also found that people with disabilities are often the targets of bigots among the general public. Following an incident in County Wicklow, a number of people may face charges. after filming a man with an

intellectual disability falling in a public place and distributing the video by mobile phone. This was but one of a number of incidents of harassment of people with disabilities we were made aware of. Thankfully, the GRIO now has responsibility for challenging criminal discrimination under any of the nine grounds under which people are protected. While he holds the office in high esteem, the GRIO is according to Martin Collins “extremely underresourced” and has suffered from a high staff turnover which has effected operations. Martin described our hate-crime legislation as “cumbersome and unclear” and has called on the Government to introduce legislation to make it easier to get convictions in the

Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act,1989

T

he Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1991 criminalises incitement to hatred on grounds on race, colour, religion, ethnic or national origin, membership of the Travelling community and sexual orientation. The law states: Actions likely to stir up hatred: It shall be an offence for a person — ( a ) to publish or distribute written material, ( b ) to use words, behave or display written material — (i) in any place other than inside a private residence, or (ii) inside a private residence so that the words, behaviour or material are heard or seen by persons outside the residence, or ( c ) to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds, if the written material, words, behaviour, visual images or sounds, as the case may be, are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred.

ACISM FOLLOW-UP

Over 1000 people a week apply to the Warmer Homes Scheme

court: “The Department of Justice has been reviewing the law on incitement to hatred for the last five or six years. Well, they need to get their finger out.” He added that racism against Travellers should not be seen as just a Traveller problem: “Racism has the potential to destabilise any society.” Meanwhile, on what seems to be a positive note, the latest official figures for racist crime in Ireland showed a fall, confounding the usual expectation of a rise in bigotry and racism during recession. The figures only account for recorded crime. Contact info: Garda Racial & Intercultural Unit – T: 01-6663150/3817. E: david.mcinerney@garda.ie

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CHANGING IRELAND ISSUE 34  

Hot in Issue 34: People power can prevail, jobs, anti-racism/ Real jobs, training and business start-ups/ Claiming Our Future covera...

CHANGING IRELAND ISSUE 34  

Hot in Issue 34: People power can prevail, jobs, anti-racism/ Real jobs, training and business start-ups/ Claiming Our Future covera...

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